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Past Flesh and further into Inquiry

by Ann E. Michael

The body that was my father’s body

knew the calculations of disease and its many tolls.

The coring cancer makes of bone,

spine softening to sponge, marrow turned refusenik

as blood, sluggish, spurns life.


The body that was my father’s body,

titanium hips, patched intestine, pierced skull, frail,

stooped, all five senses waning—

the body continued, animated by the life that

was my father’s life.


We watched him settle into death.

The body that was my father’s body exhaled—

faintly—into the last night of his life

while my sister slept in the extra cot in his room,

breathing for her life.


The body—that body we knew—

is now a charnel promise, unfamiliar, broken into

five or six pounds of ash, chips, char.

The body was my father’s body but is no more.

Where is my father’s life?

About the Author

Ann E. Michael lives in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, slightly west of where the Lehigh River meets the Delaware. Her most recent collection of poems is Barefoot Girls. Her next book, The Red Queen Hypothesis, will be published sometime in 2021. More info at

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